Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Federal immorality stains us all

“The whole idea that Rumsfeld projects—‘We’re here to protect the nation from terrorism’—is an oxymoron,” Taguba said. “He and his aides have abused their offices and have no idea of the values and high standards that are expected of them. And they’ve dragged a lot of officers with them.”

In a week (only 2 days in) there have been many shocking revelations:
  1. Bush's record number of 'signing statements' have led to noncompliance in perhaps a full third of passed legislation
  2. The RNC has destroyed thousands of emails that should have been saved under the Presidential Records Act.
  3. Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are demanding that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales investigate allegations that the RNC and former research director Tim Griffin may have been involved in voter suppression tactics.
  4. The Forth Circuit Court passed a decision not to “alter the constitutional foundations” of the United States by upholding the government’s indefinite detention of a civilian in military custody in this country.
  5. Tony Blair claiming that he only sided with George Bush when Bush decided to invade Afghanistan, because "Blair's real concern was that there would be quote unquote 'a knee-jerk reaction' by the Americans ... they would go thundering off and nuke the shit out of the place without thinking straight"
With this barrage of news, the one article that refuses to leave my thoughts is Seymour Hersh's story about General Antonio Taguba, who was responsible for investigating the Abu Ghraib scandal.

This story haunts me, the way torture haunts me, because it truly speaks to the moral stain we all now bear as American citizens. We are now as the Germans in WWII; stained by a common, moral guilt that can only be cleansed by an overhaul of our government. Torture makes of us lesser beings on the same par as Nazis.

I cannot bear that. Of all the reasons I write, the greatest of these is that I cannot live under the weight of this evil, this guilt, this horror. I cannot just sit here with this stain on my country and not speak, no SHOUT out my feelings of anguish and betrayal.

The facts that come out in Hersh's story are truly shocking. The White House knew, very early on, the extent of the torture going on in Abu Ghraib, but only worried about their own culpability:

Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld’s testimony was simply not true. “The photographs were available to him—if he wanted to see them,” Taguba said. Rumsfeld’s lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, “Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There’s no way he’s suffering from C.R.S.—Can’t Remember Shit. He’s trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves.” It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials.

The article went on to describe Taguba; his family history, his strong moral character and ethical center... I really like the man. I am grateful that we have men of his character serving in our military. And I find it a disgrace the way he was treated for doing his job, and doing it well.

At the time, Taguba was working for Major General Mike Myatt, a marine who was the officer in charge of strategic talks with the South Koreans, on behalf of the American military. “I needed an executive assistant with brains and integrity,” Myatt, who is now retired and living in San Francisco, told me. After interviewing a number of young officers, he chose Taguba. “He was ethical and he knew his stuff,” Myatt said. “We really became close, and I’d trust him with my life. We talked about military strategy and policy, and the moral aspect of war—the importance of not losing the moral high ground.” Myatt followed Taguba’s involvement in the Abu Ghraib inquiry, and said, “I was so proud of him. I told him, ‘Tony, you’ve maintained yourself, and your integrity.’ ”

Taguba got a different message, however, from other officers, among them General John Abizaid, then the head of Central Command. A few weeks after his report became public, Taguba, who was still in Kuwait, was in the back seat of a Mercedes sedan with Abizaid. Abizaid’s driver and his interpreter, who also served as a bodyguard, were in front. Abizaid turned to Taguba and issued a quiet warning: “You and your report will be investigated.”

“I wasn’t angry about what he said but disappointed that he would say that to me,” Taguba said. “I’d been in the Army thirty-two years by then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia.”

Its beginning to feel a lot like 'the Mafia' lately.

It gets worse:

The former senior intelligence official said that when the images of Abu Ghraib were published, there were some in the Pentagon and the White House who “didn’t think the photographs were that bad”—in that they put the focus on enlisted soldiers, rather than on secret task-force operations. Referring to the task-force members, he said, “Guys on the inside ask me, ‘What’s the difference between shooting a guy on the street, or in his bed, or in a prison?’ ” A Pentagon consultant on the war on terror also said that the “basic strategy was ‘prosecute the kids in the photographs but protect the big picture.’ ”

A recently retired C.I.A. officer, who served more than fifteen years in the clandestine service, told me that the task-force teams “had full authority to whack—to go in and conduct ‘executive action,’ ” the phrase for political assassination. “It was surrealistic what these guys were doing,” the retired operative added. “They were running around the world without clearing their operations with the ambassador or the chief of station.”

The photos weren't that bad?

Maybe not to those in the White House. At this point, this really comes as no surprise. To see a shark acting like a shark... is not a shock. The real horror is that the American people allowed sharks to take over our country and pervert our beliefs and the democracy that was left to us in trust.

To those of us out here who aren't sociopaths, these photos and the torture they portray... are horrible. They are the things of nightmares. They conjure up images of Nazi storm troopers and Gestapo torture chambers. Our grandfathers' generation fought the Nazis and liberated the concentration camps. Our generation has fallen into a lawless, moral abyss, and comes closer to resembling Nazis every day.

Not in our name.

This behavior is a shame to Americans living and dead; and this stain, this abuse of power and torture will be a scar on our history that will take generations to heal.

Taguba was forced to retire for his work on our behalf. And yes - this investigation was for us. I for one would love to thank him for his work, for his dedicated service, and for his adherence to honor:

In January of 2006, Taguba received a telephone call from General Richard Cody, the Army’s Vice-Chief of Staff. “This is your Vice,” he told Taguba. “I need you to retire by January of 2007.” No pleasantries were exchanged, although the two generals had known each other for years, and, Taguba said, “He offered no reason.” (A spokesperson for Cody said, “Conversations regarding general officer management are considered private personnel discussions. General Cody has great respect for Major General Taguba as an officer, leader, and American patriot.”)

“They always shoot the messenger,” Taguba told me. “To be accused of being overzealous and disloyal—that cuts deep into me. I was being ostracized for doing what I was asked to do.”

Taguba went on, “There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff”—the explicit images—“was gravitating upward. It was standard operating procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to be aware of this.” He said that Rumsfeld, his senior aides, and the high-ranking generals and admirals who stood with him as he misrepresented what he knew about Abu Ghraib had failed the nation.

“From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I too am very concerned about the actions of the sociopaths running the country and what they are doing. You may be interested in reading a very powerful, searing article called, An Angry Arab Woman Speaks, which details more of the horrible acts being committed in our name. You can find it

It's a very painful read, but we must face the truth.

Thanks again

10:21 AM  

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